Top Chef Contender Tiffany Derry Tells (Almost) All to The Daily Sip’s Eric Arnold

Tiffany Derry Top Chef Contender Tiffany Derry Tells (Almost) All to The Daily Sips Eric Arnold
Chef Tiffany Derry wisely dodged Eric Arnold's questions about Angelo's mail-order bride.

Once more, OT’s usual commentators on the most recent edition of Top Chef – Caroline Potter and Ed Cotton — are both out of town – and Top Chef is a re-run. Fortunately, I was able to secure an anything-goes interview with former and current Top Chef-testant Tiffany Derry (who is also out of town but not away from a phone). If you don’t remember me, Eric Arnold, I’m the editor of The Daily Sip, a free, wine-centric e-newsletter; and you can usually find me waxing about the wines of New Zealand–and other booze-related topics – herehere, and here. As for Chef Tiffany Derry, when she’s not on your television screen or out of the country, she is the Executive Chef of the upcoming Private Social restaurant in Dallas [Ed. Note: We hope Private Social will be featured on OpenTable.]

We hear you’re out of the country. Where are you right now, and what’s the greatest thing you’ve eaten?

I am off enjoying some much-needed family time. I am a foie gras-head and it was done at Brennan’s Restaurant in Houston, Texas. They did this praline foie with French toast — and it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Last week was pretty lopsided, and the front-of-the-house person always has a big bull’s eye on him or her. Did you think Padma was going to tell you to pack up and go, or were you confident you’d hang on?

I am never confident when I am on the bottom. Sometimes you hear things slightly different from what they actually said. I honestly did not feel like it should have been me. I brought back so many plates of food and had so many bad comments that it was very overwhelming. I did the best I could to not show all the drama that was going on in the back of the house.

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50 Most Romantic Restaurants in the US: OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award 2011

Most Romantic Restaurants 2011 50 Most Romantic Restaurants in the US: OpenTable Diners Choice Award 2011
Did your favorite romantic spot make this year's list?

With less than three weeks until Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to announce the 50 winners of the 2011 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for Most Romantic Restaurants. The list of winners is derived from 7 million+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

California is the stand-out state on the list, with nine Golden State restaurants earning spots; New York is home to just four winners, which begs the question, “Should Sleepless in Seattle have culminated atop the Golden Gate Bridge rather than the Empire State Building?” And, while we normally associate French and Italian foods with romance (see Julie & Julia and Lady and the Tramp), this list proves that home is where the heart is: American cuisine accounted for 14 slots on the list. If you follow our Diners’ Choice Awards each year, you’ll know how very romantical our diners find fondue — and that’s still true; melted cheese and chocolate continue to inspire amore.

A perfect guide to help you plan your best Valentine’s Day dining experiences yet, this list ensures you’ll book a table that would make Cupid proud!

Dining Poll: Do You Choose Just Desserts When Dining Out?

How sweet is your sweet tooth? Enough to make you pass right over a restaurant’s entrees and savory dishes and head straight for the pastries? Have you ever made an entree out of ice cream? Cobbled together a meal from cobbler? Share your opinion — or addiction — in today’s dining poll.

Tuesday Spotlights: $50 for $25 at LA’s Elements, Giano in NYC + SF’s Spiazzo

Giano NYC Tuesday Spotlights: $50 for $25 at LAs Elements, Giano in NYC + SFs Spiazzo
Enjoy half off at Giano with today's Spotlight offer in New York City!

Tune into Tuesday’s Spotlight offers in three cities! In Los Angeles, you can sample the best of the season at Elements Kitchen. Manhattan’s Giano serves up traditional and contemporary Italian sure to satisfy any appetite. And, San Francisco’s Spiazzo Ristorante brings the flavors of Rome to the City by the Bay every day!

Enjoy a 50% discount when you purchase any of these Spotlight offers that give you $50 worth of food and drink for just $25! And, don’t miss more Spotlight offers tomorrow and Thursday!

Secret Spotlight Clues Are Here! Can You Guess This Week’s Featured Restaurants?

Secret Spotlight LA 01252011 Secret Spotlight Clues Are Here! Can You Guess This Weeks Featured Restaurants?
How well do you know the burgers of Los Angeles? Can you guess where this one was flipped?

Another week, another awesome round of OpenTable Spotlight offers are set to go live. Tuesday’s deals shine in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, while Wednesday brings six Spotlight offers out in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. See how well you know your local restaurant scene by trying to guess where the deal nearest you will be!

* Atlanta area: Grills, Gauchos and good times abound at this mouth-watering Marietta restaurant.

* Boston/New England: This gorgeous restaurant in scenic Vermont is a two-for-one gourmet dining destination and showroom location for one of the northeast’s most celebrated handcraft artisans.

* Chicago area: Only a half-hour north of Chicago, this classy restaurant serves mouth-watering French cuisine and takes pride in its impeccable service.

* Denver: Located in Denver’s Historic Highlands, this popular local eatery serves exceptional contemporary American comfort food with a touch of Italian and French inspiration.

* Los Angeles: Steps away from the Pasadena Playhouse, this creative restaurant offers enticing dishes inspired by single, elemental ingredients. Celebrate the season’s bounty and indulge in a luscious cocktail made with fresh fruits, herbs, and house-infused liquors.

* New York: This East Village restaurant is named after the two-faced Roman god of doorways, and features a tantalizing blend of traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine.

* Philadelphia: Celebrate Mother Nature at this bountiful restaurant in Glen Mills where feeling good and eating great go hand in hand. The tantalizing menu features many ‘under 500-calorie’ meals that are both healthy and delicious!

* San Francisco: This homey Italian restaurant proudly boasts the largest wine selection in San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood.

* Washington, D.C.: Gather your friends and family for a convivial feast of authentic Turkish tapas and wine at this vibrant Dupont Circle eatery. The sister restaurant to one of Adams Morgan’s most popular tapas venues, the restaurants’ names are anagrams of each other.

Just like last week (and, come to think of it, the week before that, and so on), we’ll have a bonus round of Spotlight offers shining again on Thursday in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Winter Restaurant Weeks: Coming to a City Near You (If They’re Not Already There)

Dine Out Vancouver Winter Restaurant Weeks: Coming to a City Near You (If Theyre Not Already There)If Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, restaurant weeks are a close second. So, we’re pleased to let you know that Winter Restaurant Week season is upon, dear diners. Don’t miss your chance to dine at a discount, often while doing good.

* Alexandria Restaurant Week: January 21-30

* Annapolis Restaurant Week: February 15-21

* Atlantic City Restaurant Week: February 27-March 5

* Baltimore Restaurant Week: January 21-30

* Bethesda Restaurant Week: January 24-30

Center City District Restaurant Week: January 16-21 and January 23-28

* Charlotte Restaurant Week: January 21-30

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Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7: Now With The Daily Sip’s Eric Arnold for Extra Flavor

Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7 Tiffany Top Chef Season 8 Episode 7: Now With The Daily Sips Eric Arnold for Extra Flavor
"Somebody get a sponge."

This week, OT’s usual commentators on the most recent edition of Top Chef – Caroline Potter and Ed Cotton — are both out of town. So I’ve been asked to step in and take over for the next two weeks. Normally, I’m the editor of The Daily Sip, a free, wine-centric e-newsletter; and you can usually find me waxing about the wines of New Zealand–and other booze-related topics–herehere, and here.

Each season of Top Chef, we’re expected to look forward to Restaurant Wars, when the remaining contestants are split into two groups that square off in a battle of pop-up restaurants. It’s also usually the episode in which an otherwise strong contestant is shown the door because he or she ran the front of the house like it’s the DMV.

Some Restaurant Wars battles have been better than others, and this one, unfortunately, belongs in the scrap heap. For starters, the contestants weren’t put under nearly as much pressure as in previous seasons: No shopping for flatware, dishware, curtains or scented candles — just cooking. While one could argue that this levels the playing field, it really didn’t last night because someone still had to run the front of the house and, potentially, sacrifice food quality. And truth be told, last night’s Top Chef proved beyond doubt that the contestants will make or break themselves in the kitchen all on their own, no matter the challenge. So why not just keep them all in the kitchen?

Nevertheless, therein lies Top Chef‘s strength as a series: It’s the little things, from sliced fingers to stolen fishes to drunken kisses, that evoke an emotional response from viewers one minute to the next. I had plenty last night, in fact. Here they are, in order from last night:

* Ah, the brief recap — and yes, what fond memories we have of Jamie finally being sent packing last week. Oh, snap: Tonight’s episode starts at Le Bernadin?! Oh man, what I’d have given to see her survive another week and return to the scene of her braised-celery crime. Oh well.

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Dining Poll: Should Restaurants Call to Confirm Your Reservations?

From time to time, we hear from diners (mostly on Twitter) who aren’t that thrilled when restaurants call to confirm a restaurant reservation. While every restaurant sets its own policy about reservation confirmations, we’re curious how you feel. Weigh in on this hot topic today!

Tuesday Spotlights: Save 50% in NY + LA + SF Today; Preview Tomorrow’s Offers

Belvedere Spotlight Tuesday Spotlights: Save 50% in NY + LA + SF Today; Preview Tomorrows Offers
The Belvedere in LA serves up scrumptious scallops and mussels.

Today’s Spotlight offers have turned on. You can save 50% at The Belvedere in Los AngelesKlee Brasserie in New York, and La Boheme in San Francisco. Tomorrow, we’ve got six more Spotlight deals sure to whet your appetite. Can you guess the participating restaurants from the hints below?

Atlanta: This popular Vinings restaurant offers top quality steaks, seafood, and classic American steakhouse cuisine.

Boston: Voted Boston’s “Best Clam Chowder,” this Back Bay favorite serves award-winning sustainable seafood with classic New England flavor.

Chicago: Set in picturesque Lake Forest, this charming bistro overlooks Market Square from the second floor of a historic brick building.

Denver: Specializing in seafood and grilled meats, this Washington Park restaurant boasts a friendly, nautical-inspired atmosphere and an always-fresh raw bar.

Philadelphia: This restaurant and wine bar in the heart of Ambler is dedicated to serving fresh, sustainable dishes with produce from their own organic garden.

Washington, D.C.: Indulge in purr-fect, delectable French fare at this stylish Friendship Heights bistro, or sip a casual glass of wine in the upstairs wine lounge.

Check back this evening for the big reveal — and on Thursday for more ways to save in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.